Good morning, sunshine. Time to start another day.
Your alarm has awoken you. You’re about to run late for work, so you quickly get up and get dressed. You have no time to say much to your spouse; time is money, and money is what makes the world go round.
You get to your job about half an hour late. Your boss remarks on this, but you assure him that you can work harder today to make up for it. As soon as you say this, you get straight to work. It could be some low-end IT customer service, or it could be some office job for a newspaper or a tax prep service. Whatever your job may be, you do it well, and you work extra hard to make up for lost time. You sit there, guzzling cups upon cups of coffee, doing all that you can to meet your quota.
Next thing you know, it’s time for your lunch break. You set work aside for the next little while, exhausted but still feeling accomplished and relieved. Surely lunch will help you get back into gear. You decide to head down to a McDonald’s today; yesterday, you ate at Taco Bell, and boy was that a big mistake. Besides, you want something different. You head inside McDonald’s, order a delicious meal, and sit down at a table. You pick the table closest to the door that has a good view of the city outside. You’ve known this city for your whole life, and you can’t imagine living anywhere else. Suddenly, a news report comes on TV. Christ, another shooting. Can’t the news talk about anything original anymore?
Your meal is done. Satisfied and ready to get back to work, you dispose of your garbage and head back into your office. Your hard work resumes, though somewhat less stressful than before. You keep your pace going until it’s time to clock out. With that, you finish up your last remaining tasks, gather your things, and begin to head home.
Back at home, you’re exhausted. Your spouse, ever so lovingly concerned, tells you not to work yourself too hard, but they are willing to engage in helping you to relax after your long day. Since yesterday was movie night, you and your spouse decide to spend a few hours playing video games together. The two of you have a blast, shedding all the anxieties the day has brought the both of you. Next thing you know, the sun has set in the sky, and it’s time for bed.
After taking care of the last-minute nature calls and the gussying up for bed, you climb into bed with your spouse. Once you set your alarm to be an hour earlier than before, the two of you have an intimate moment before you kiss each other goodnight. You stare out the window, looking at the moon and stars glistening in the night sky as you drift off to the land of unconsciousness.
Some hours later…
Good morning, sunshine. Time to start another day.
Your alarm has awoken you. Sure enough, you’re nice and early. You get up, get dressed, tell your spouse, “I love you,” and then you’re off. You arrive at your job right on time, much to the satisfaction of your boss, and you get started with your work. You may be a bit better off, but you don’t get complacent, so you keep a steady focus on what you have to do. Your sleep schedule is a bit off, so you still drink a few cups of coffee to stay sharp, but not as much as yesterday. You can’t even remember how many cups you had yesterday!
Lunch break again. This time, you head to a local pizzeria. After all, you’re more in the mood for pizza than anything else today. With that in mind, you head in, order yourself a few slices of pizza served with a crispy crust, gooey cheese, and strong sauce. This has got to be the best pizza you’ve had in your life.
During your post-lunch shift, you get your work done early, so you decide to go surfing about on the Internet. Steering clear of any sites deemed NSFW, you simply sit there watching YouTube videos. Some cartoons you grew up with as a kid, a few let’s plays, maybe a few creepypasta readings…yeah, you’re pretty bored.
Suddenly, a video catches your eye. Its title tells of some discussion about the philosophy of consciousness. It sounds somewhat overwhelming, but since you’re feeling underwhelmed and have nothing else to do, you start watching it. Thankfully, whoever made the video doesn’t bog you down with fiendishly complex language, and the explanation of the philosophy is nice and straightforward.
At some point in the video, a topic comes up.
Continuous Breaks in Consciousness.
The video explains: “You only experience your consciousness. People generally remember their lives as their conscious mind experiences them; nobody can recall being unconscious. That said, there actually are breaks in consciousness that occur quite regularly. The most notable examples are when doctors put you to sleep for surgeries and, more mundanely, every time you fall asleep. When you’re in deep sleep, you drift out of consciousness and into the realm of your unconscious/subconscious mind (which we call dreams), and when you wake up from a dream, you return to your consciousness.
“Given all of this, it’s safe to assume that you yourself will not remember what you did while you were asleep or what happened when you were put under. Either someone tells you or you never find out. However, that’s only when you’re finally conscious again.
“With all that said, there’s only one thing to ask: How do you know it’s really you that woke up again? How do you know that you didn’t just die while you were unconscious, and another person who thinks it’s you simply took your place upon waking? Well, based on all of the things we’ve mentioned here, there’s only one answer.
“You don’t know. You can’t know. You can never even hope to know, because all of that would have happened while you were unconscious. Sleep well tonight.”
You pause the video. This has struck you, and you don’t know what to make of it. At first, you want to dismiss it as just mindless hogwash. Clearly, the only people who would deny being conscious would be the same ones who are locked in the loony bin. You’re not one of those guys, so you clearly aren’t crazy. Of course, you’re conscious, and you know it.
Then you start to think about it a bit more. Of course, you know you’re conscious, but that’s only because you’re conscious. You don’t know when you’re unconscious, especially since so many dreams seem so real, no matter how crazy they get to be. What if you really do die every time you’re asleep? Maybe that’s why, when doctors put people under anesthesia, we call it “putting people to sleep,” as though they are animals being euthanized.
What if it’s more than that?
If you don’t know when you’re unconscious, does that mean…?
Before you can think any more about it, you realize that it’s the end of your shift. You clock out, pack your things, and head straight home. On the way, your thoughts on what you just watched are blocked out by the noise of the city. You continue to dismiss that video as nonsense only meant to drive someone insane.
Once you’re about to unlock the front door and step inside your home to greet your spouse again, the thoughts start racing back to you again. You know it’ll eventually be bedtime, and you’ll be forced to go to sleep once again. After all, you don’t want to have another late start. Besides, your alarm has been set to wake you up early again tomorrow, so you need to get as much rest as possible. You’ll be unconscious, and once you are, you’ll be left at the whim of…well, what? You don’t even know what would come in to kill you in your sleep.
Come to think of it, you don’t even know why you have to sleep in the first place. What’s really going on here? What’s the reason why we don’t know when we’re unconscious?
Could it be…?
Damn, you almost forgot. You still need to open the door! Your spouse must be worried sick about you, thinking you’re running late to coming home for whatever reason they might think of. Not wanting to keep your spouse waiting any longer, you unlock the front door and step inside. Your spouse greets you, asking why you were running late. You say that you just had a bit of extra work at the last minute, and your spouse believes you. You also say that today wasn’t nearly as stressful as yesterday, much to the relief of your spouse.
The two of you decide to watch a movie this time, seeing how you spent yesterday evening playing video games together. As you watch the movie, though, you can’t help but start thinking about things again. Why do you feel like doing some things on some days and other things on other days? If you like doing a particular thing, why not do it all the time? Because it’d get boring, sure, but…why would it? What’s the reason for boredom?
Maybe, just maybe, it reveals the true intentions of the being that took your place and thinks it’s you. After all, no two people have exactly the same interests and hobbies, nor do they enjoy it in exactly the same way. Could it be that boredom is just your new self simply acting out against the life your previous self would’ve lived? What about those times when you want to do something different each day? Maybe your new self doesn’t want to live like your previous self, but since it thinks it’s you, you only think you just want to do things differently each time. That would explain why yesterday you wanted McDonald’s, then today you wanted pizza. It would also explain why you and your spouse spend your evenings differently each time…
Your spouse notices your dazed stare and asks if something is wrong. You look to them, getting a grip on your senses once more and coming back to the moment. You smile and say that everything’s fine. You were just thinking about work. Your spouse somewhat doubts you, but they don’t pursue the question any further. The two of you simply resume watching the movie until its conclusion. You’re starting to lose it, you think to yourself. All this crap about consciousness is just crazy talk.
Back in bed, you stare at the ceiling. Yep, those thoughts again. You know you can’t fight what’s going to happen to you, and it’s inevitable anyway. You simply have to succumb to your sleepiness at some point, and once you do, it’ll be a new day for the new you that takes your place.
Your spouse comes to bed comforting you, gently urging you to stop thinking about whatever has taken up so much of your mental energy. As an effort of helping you, your spouse engages in another intimate moment. It eases your nerves and gets you back into your life.
Before going to sleep, your spouse says only one thing to you.
“Goodnight, sweet prince.”
Without another word, you both turn over. Your spouse is already fast asleep, and you’re just lying there, staring out at the night sky like you always do. You’d fight your lethargy and stay conscious for one more day, but the night and your tiredness just continues to drain you of energy. You can’t fight it now. This is it. This is the end. You close your eyes, drifting off into a deep slumber that might as well last an eternity. Whatever happened on this day is destined to be a faint echo, distorted and eventually lost into the abyss of forgotten time and existence.
Only a few hours later…
Good morning, sunshine. Time to start another day.
Written by GMart5 at 6:39 AM PDT on 30.VII.2016